Memory is so complex, but can be split into two simple concepts. Collective and personal. I contemplated focusing on collective memory and linking it with spectacle and power in terms of remembering an event that was powerful to a group of people, however I wanted to do something different. I had heard others in the class were focusing on collective memory and I wanted to do something that was more personal to me, as I have never really expressed myself in that way before. I tended to focus on what other people wanted to see, rather than what was personal to me – what meant something to me.
Memory is incredible. The ability to recall moments from the past, whether it be good or bad, can bring things back to life that are no more.
We do not remember days; we remember moments – Cesare Pavese.
Memories, in my opinion, are specific and important things that are usually personal, and so I began to think about what is important to me. The first thing without a shadow of a doubt that popped into my mind was my family and friends.
As much as I have had my conflicts with my little brother Leo, I do still care about him. When I was growing up he was always there for me to chat to and vice-versa. My best memories have always been either with him, my mum and dad or my close friends. From this I have been looking into memories I have shared with my brother, such as holidays, christmases, birthdays etc. I know my dad has recorded many of these on film over the years so I intend to collect as many as I can from him and create and artefact out of them.
I know this may not be the best way to go about representing ‘memory’ when showing it to the class, as they might just watch it and think ‘this is cute’ or ‘funny’. However, this brings me back to my decision not to choose collective memory. I not only want to create this video for this module, but also to keep for myself as a memory of my brother when he was younger; something to look back on when we are older and laugh about.
Childhood memories is something deeply connected with power also:
Nothing is more powerful than the memories created by a child’s experiences. The child’s memories fashion the adult’s life. Every day of adult life is touched by the memories of childhood experiences.
Not only this, but childhood memories are often a collection of events in time. It is those moments we remember, from those specific events/spectacles, and it is them which help form our versions of the past. It is these moments and experiences that form who we are today, and without them, we would not think how we do, talk how we do or act how we do.
If you were a 90s kid like me take a look at this video and see if it brings back any memories for you:
I listened to this podcast on the BBC website on the idea of memory:
One of the most influential theorists on memory, Marcel Proust had this to say:
Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have retained of them.
We are able to find everything in our memory, which is like a dispensary or chemical laboratory in which chance steers our hand sometimes to a soothing drug and sometimes to a dangerous poison.
On reading theorist Mark Reid’s ‘Memory as Initial Experiencing of the Past’, I concluded that memory is not only what we think we remember:
Memory is an immediate knowledge of something past* – (Reid 1785/ 1849, p. 357).
*Reid, Mark (2005), ‘Memory as Initial Experiencing of the Past’, Philosophical Psychology, 18: 671–698.